Roots of my beginnings mean a lot to me. I choose to be selective about all those memories, and single out a place that was frozen in time for nearly one hundred years. Deep in the “Endless Mountains” (also known as the Appalacians) of Pennsylvania, my father’s family has been the keepers for a simple cabin poised by a small creek named Indian Camp Run. My childhood was filled with what I refer to as the “Grandpa Grundy” stories my father used to tell. Although I have no idea who Grandpa Grundy was, or where or when I first heard the name, this always referred to tales of life in the long ago in a different time when there were only a few automobiles, no modern appliances or even indoor plumbing, no social media, and probably set during the Great Depression. My father, being a Boy Scout leader in his youth, took it upon himself to educate my sister and I on the wonders of Nature for a few weeks every summer. Rambling through the hills and into and along the creeks (we called them “cricks”…that’s Pittsburgese dialect). We turned over stones and caught crayfish if we were fast enough to spot them before they skittered away with the current in a cloud of fine silt. We hunted for soft-skinned miniature orange salamanders with black polka-dot spots and made houses for them in shoe boxes. We sampled wild mint, tea-berry leaves and mouthfuls of delicious fresh raspberries and blueberries, green apples, and hazelnuts and walnuts. We gathered huge bouquets of wildflowers that were everywhere in vases around the cabin. We learned to love the sound of rain on a tin roof and rummaging through ancient trunks filled with strange clothing and old photographs. After we were tucked into bed, we watched fireflies twinkle around us in the dark of the sleeping loft. …And the world was perfect then.
And now …well, lets say that I am continually seeking ways to regain that sense of the serenity of nature in my life and to remind myself of that perfection through my jewelry pieces. This pendant made from a worn splinter of shale is one I saved from a trip back to the mountains a few years ago. I plucked it out of the crick because I thought it was interesting, and now I need the memory to come alive again so its on the bench. I enfolded it in a copper bezel with rippling edges like the water and creek-bed that formed it. …A work in progress.
Recently I am super-charged with the idea of showing off the beauty of a stone in it’s natural, raw state. Where crystals and sparkly stones are concerned I have the wonderment of a child and a fascination that it could possibly grow out of the earth and be so special.
This bracelet in copper and silver-plated mixed metals evolved from just three components held together. The metals wanted to swirl like roots around them, capturing and holding them securely as roots do.
Heavily hand-forged chain links and barrel beads of copper combine with the ancient and earthy. Quartz crystals and clusters, a fossilized ammonite, and the raw glitzy sparkle of small mica stones are wrapped together and ornamentally solder secured.
Something that is hard to come by in this busy world of ours. Sometimes it just means paying attention and recognizing the little things that come across our paths during the day and honoring the beauty and simplicity.
For two weeks I would walk into the studio and diddle with picking up this and that and make no headway at all. Finally, I decided I had far too many bits and pieces that had been around for ages …perhaps had been given to me …maybe I didn’t even like them very much …but kept them around “because.” It occurred to me that in my state of mind,and after so much time away, it would take a few hours to get my metal focus and kick start the creative process. It also seemed that any piece I might work on was not likely to be something I was pleased with. In fact, I spent a day trying to solder pieces, etc., and felt like my skills had been slipping. …Talk about frustration and despair! The following morning, I came across a wonderful video by Ira Glass. I had seen it before, but this video ought to be on the “watch this” list every time I start thinking my artsy creations are crappy. The man gives a wonderful perspective for beginning creatives at any level. His message is basically: our taste is better than our skill and it takes lots of practice, but improvement will come, and it may take years to get to our goal …so be patient and keep on going.
So, I looked at projects that had been left to languish. This wrap bracelet was well under way, had character and was ready to start right up where I left off. It was actually meant to be a close duplicate of another I made for myself. However, skills and creativity do increase, and I found that I was going far beyond my first project and getting my “wild” on. Links were more creative and I launched my efforts with more speed and felt sure of the direction I was heading in. This piece sold in the first few hours it was in the store, and for a higher value than I have received in the past. Now, I am finding this is happening more frequently.